For years, California has led the nation in sexual harassment training requirements for employers. The original initiative set to ensure training for supervisors in businesses with 50 or more employees, has now been expanded to include additional private sector workers who are not in a supervisory position.
In the quest to eliminate and prevent harassment in all work place environments, the most recent focus has been on specific industries including, service workers, local government officials, and farm workers.
The California legislature feels that service and farm workers are more at risk for harassment due to the isolated working conditions as well as the risk of reprisal after filing a complaint.
Farm Labor Workers
As requirements to renewing their business license, agricultural companies and contractors will be required to:
- Submit to a written exam ensuring that they are aware of all sexual harassment policies in their industry
- Provide written certification that all supervisors have received training
- Have a plan and training program in place for all non-supervisory employees
- Participate in at least nine hours of sexual harassment identification training
Property Service Workers
Unlike the other areas addressed by the legislation, service worker requirements will not take effect immediately. This new legislation will come into effect and begin with registration of all employees by the beginning of 2018.
Under the new policy service workers will be required to:
- Register as a property service employee
- Review a pamphlet detailing sexual harassment laws and the consequences
- Participate in sexual harassment training at least every two years
With growing concern in the California legislature for widespread sexual harassment policies, it is anticipated that additional industries will begin to have new requirements for sexual harassment training for all of their employees.
Why Sexual Harassment Training is Important
Whether a business falls under the new legislation regulations or not, implementing a sexual harassment awareness and training program is an important step for any business. These policies should be in place for several reasons.
Provide Employees with a Sense of Security
By providing training to employees, the company will be setting the standard for professional interaction at the workplace. This will help employees feel secure against the threat of harassment. Additionally with a set policy in place, employees are more likely to feel comfortable reporting their concerns or behavior they find inappropriate or uncomfortable.
Defines Limits and Consequences for Violations
Having a set policy will not only detail the exact terms of what the company will consider harassment or inappropriate conduct or behavior, but will also explicitly define the consequences for those actions. This definition is important in the event that an employee is reported or in turn loses their job due to a harassment violation.
Training Helps Protect Employees And The Employer
If the training policy is followed and the appropriate measures are taken to rectify a harassment situation, the employer and the employee will be more likely to resolve the matter outside of litigation. Additionally the company will be protected in the event that a terminated employee sues for wrongful termination as a result of a sexual harassment violation.
The State of California has made it clear: The best way to protect workers from the negative effects of a sexual harassment claim is by adopting and implementing a clearly defined sexual harassment policy and training program.